Recently our local newspaper ran an article about Baby Proofing your home if you have little ones. My husband turned to me and said, "Huh. Go figure. Seven children and we've never had a lock on a cabinet."
So I got to thinking about that. Sure, we've moved some things around. I don't leave Sharpie markers easily accessible and the medicines are in high cabinets. But instead we have chosen to house-proof our babies. I know many of you have done the same.
Our motive is two-fold: teach the little one self-control and obedience (mommy's and daddy's yes means yes and their no means no) and prepare them to be a blessing in any environment. If I take them to Grammy's house, they can be quickly trained to play in the toy basket but not in Grammy's cupboards because they are used to having limited access to cupboards at home.
If you've never house-proofed a baby, how do you go about it? There are several ways. The most important thing is to say what you mean and mean what you say. When you say "no", mean "no", not "until I get annoyed enough to do something about it". We've all been privy to situations where parents warn, threaten, and warn again only to be ignored repeatedly by the child because they long ago stopped believing the warnings and threats. So if your little one opens a kitchen cabinet to which you don't want them to have access, say "no" very firmly and when they go to open it again, take action. Physically move the child away from the cupboard and redirect them to where they can be. For us, it's the Tupperware cupboard, where the access is unlimited and they can make a mess to their heart's content.
Some children are tenacious. I have a couple of those. You know them- the ones who want nothing to do with the Tupperware cupboard and everything to do with the forbidden cupboards. Here is where the rubber meets the road. You’ll need to stop what you’re doing and discipline the child. Dinner can wait! A lesson or two well-learned over a day or so will breed a content child who knows the limits and who doesn’t need locks on the cupboards.
Now, that said, we have also learned to choose our battles. Personally, I like a gate or two. When our not-to-code stairs had to be rebuilt, I asked the carpenter to install a gate. This brings peace because I can know a little one can’t accidentally fall down the stairs while my attention is elsewhere. But that same little one can also be crawling around on that landing and I can trust him or her to not get into the laundry room cupboards right around the corner because we’ve done the training.
Soon I'll revisit an old Preschoolers and Peace tool for house-proofing. Can you guess what it is?
Gate at the Top of the Stairs